Once upon a time a father was very frustrated with his son because he did not seem very manly though he was already sixteen years old. The father went to see a Zen master and asked the master to help his son become a real man.

The Master: “I can help you; however, you will have to leave your son at my place for three months. For the whole period, you are not allowed to come to see him. I will assure your satisfaction after the three months.”

As promised, the father did not come back until three month later. The master arranged a karate match to show the father the training result.

The trainer certainly made sure that he was fully prepared to win before he started to attack. On the other side, the son fell on the floor as soon as he was attacked without any resistance. However, the boy did not surrender and got up immediately after he fell. It went on like this for no fewer than twenty times. His father was embarrassed and felt pain but dared not say anything.

The boy lost badly when the match was over.

The Master: “Don't you think your son was showing manliness?”
Father: “I felt ashamed of him! After three months' training, what kind of result is this?! He is so weak and falls to the floor as soon as he is attacked. I don't think he is manly at all.”

The father was very disappointed.

The Master: “I am sorry that you only look at the superficial forms of failure and success. Didn't you notice that your son had courage and bravery for standing up after his falls? It is a success if the standing-ups are more than falls, which is what a real man should possesses.”

Author: Ming Yue